I was granted joint custody of my son during the dissolution of my marriage and advised his mom that I would seek full custody via the courts on my son’s 12th birthday. At the time of divorce, my son was 4 years old. Since that time, I have been dragged into court over false allegations and attempts to get restraining orders against me so she doesn’t have to comply with the custody agreement.
Every time I go to court, I have to give my lawyer $2,500 for a retaining fee. I am determined to stay in my son’s life, but at this rate I will be sitting on the curb with my house in foreclosure. What do you suggest?
Depending upon the law of your state, you may be able to obtain attorney fees from your ex (assuming she has funds to pay your attorney fees) or a court order restricting her filing future complaints if she has abused the legal process. Unfortunately, as with all legal rights, there can be significant cost to protecting your custodial rights. Unless your ex has unlimited financial resources, she should also be concerned about the cost of her actions and you may be in a better settlement position if you can demonstrate that you will pay what it takes to stay in your son’s life. If she senses that if she runs up the legal fees you will back off, you can expect that is what she will do.
An experienced family law attorney should be able to provide you with a specific strategy for dealing with her conduct, including pre-emptive moves and documentation of issues, proposed modifications of prior orders to address abuses, and the possibility of obtaining attorney fees from her. As with any professional service, you have to evaluate the cost of the service with regard to the value and timeliness of the services received.
Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.
Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.